pasta

Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc

Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc

Durbanville wine valley is celebrating a month of sauvignon blanc in October and I couldn’t be more excited! These easy drinking crisp white wines are often found at my table. Durbanville is a mere twenty minutes from Cape Town CBD and deserves a visit as much as its sister wine countryside’s Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The Durbanville region is filled with scenic routes, amazing award winning wine farms and superb restaurants. 

So with October celebrating the richness of Sauvignon blanc and estates such as Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, D’Aria, Diemersdal, De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal, Nitida, Groot Phizantekraal and Signal Gun each celebrating the start of white wine season in their own individual style, I had to create a dish that I believe celebrates these estates and their sauvignon blancs! The dish is rich and creamy and the acidity of the wine cuts through it perfectly. I have also chosen to pair the wines with seafood as it compliments the flavour well! This prawn pasta is beyond delicious and a great meal to feed a bigger crowd! 

If you want to explore the region you can pop into any of the estates and experience a tasting! The month of festivities draw to a close at the end of October with a festival weekend on the 29th and 30th October. All twelve wine estates will be present and it will be a hive of activities for all family members. 

Now let’s get down to business with my prawn pasta while you prepare to savour (hopefully) all 12 celebrated sauvignon blancs!


Serves 4, cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 300 grams rosa tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 400ml tomato pureé (I use the one in the glass jar)
  • 1 packet linguine
  • Salt
  • 250 grams of cleaned and de shelled prawns, patted dry with paper towel.
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 200 grams mascarpone cheese
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


Instructions:

In a large frying pan over a medium heat add the coconut oil, rosa tomatoes and garlic. Fry until soft. Add the oregano and tomato pureé. Let simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat. If you would like you can feed it with a little water if it starts to dry out.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously. Add the linguine to the water and boil for 7-8 minutes. Do not over cook the pasta, as it will cook further in the sauce.

Once ready, remove and strain. Add the pasta to the frying pan with the tomato sauce.

In a separate smaller frying pan bring over a high heat add the knob of butter and garlic. Add the prawns and fry for 3 minutes. Don’t over cook the prawns as they will cook further in the pasta.

Fold the mascarpone into the pasta, add the prawns and spinach and fold until combined.

Zest the pasta and add the lemon juice before serving. Serve fresh and hot with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese! 

-Melissa

*This blog post was sponsored by Durbanville wine valley. All opinions are my own. 

Risotto salsiccia funghi

Risotto salsiccia fungi
Risotto salsiccia fungi
Risotto salsiccia fungi
Risotto salsiccia fungi
Risotto salsiccia fungi
Risotto salsiccia fungi

I met Maybe Corpaci a few years ago, when I was adamant that I was going to be a fashion photographer. Yes you heard me! Just two years ago I would never have thought (in my wildest dreams) that my career path would end up in food. 

Maybe worked at the wildly popular and very well known Elle magazine South Africa. I was a photographic assistant to the incomparable fashion duo, Elford De la Foret at the time and surprisingly, Maybe and I connected over food. 

In retrospect, I should have already known then that the stars were aligning into a shape of a crockery pot. Needless to say, all these years later; Maybe and I decided to do a little cook for you. 

Maybe is a fiery Italian women that is fearlessly beautiful and knows her way around the kitchen. When I asked her what we would be cooking, a singular booming word was the reply, Risotto!

Now, I might be many things, but certainly not one to argue with an Italian who wants to cook the elusive risotto and show me the ropes.

So here it is. 

Believe it or not, I over salted it at the end; so watch out for that. The salsiccia sausage and the broth both have plenty of salt, and coupled with the Parmesan, leave the dish perfectly seasoned.

A rookie error on my part, never to be repeated.

However, having said that, allow your guests to season for themselves if they are so inclined, but caution them accordingly.

A simple, "Put down the salt Grandma!" should suffice.


Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 150 grams salsiccia sausage 
  • 1 cup risotto
  • ½ a cup of white wine  
  • 1 liter beef broth 
  • 1 teaspoon saffron 
  • 4 wild mushrooms (shitake) sliced. 
  • 3 knobs of butter 
  • 40 grams of Parmesan cheese 

Instructions: 

Chop the onions finely and add to a casserole pot with your olive oil and soften. Make sure the pot has a lid. 

Remove the sausage from the skin and break it up with your fingers. Add it to your onions and fry until golden brown. 

Add the risotto and fry on a medium to high heat until the grain becomes slightly translucent. 

Add ½ a cup of white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. You want the alcohol to evaporate. 

Add your beef broth one ladle at a time. Keep stirring. As the liquid absorbs add more broth feeding your risotto. Your cooking time should be 15-18 minutes. 

At the 13-minute mark add a tablespoon of broth to the teaspoon of saffron in a separate bowl. Let the saffron steep for 3 minutes. Add the saffron to the risotto. 

Slice the mushrooms and fry with a little butter in a separate frying pan over a high heat until golden brown. 

Add the mushrooms to the risotto and fold through. Remove from heat and pot the lid on the casserole. Let the risotto sit for 3 minutes before serving.

-Melissa

Vegetarian Lasagne

Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne

I am all about the cheese. As in ALL about the cheese. If anything goes wrong in the kitchen, I am a firm believer that all you need to do to correct a culinary calamity is to add cheese on top to solve the problem. 

Now when it comes to lasagna, I have a passion for the corner piece (as I am sure most of you do!) 
You know what I am talking about right? The gooey, crunchy, bubbling corner piece that definitely hosts more cheese than the rest of those pitiful landlocked slices. 

I am prepared to fight to the death for it.

The amazing thing with this lasagna is, not only is it vegetarian (meat eaters fear not) but it is also (in my mind) guilt free. 
Layered with fresh vegetables and topped with the perfect cheese crust, this recipe will blow your mind. 
It is a labour of love. 

Dubbed by a close friend of mine as the Lasagn-YOH (who also generously shared the recipe with me), its name is as fitting as the casserole dish it’s baked in.
I say generously because this dish is a game changer. A blessing. 
For those of you who don’t know, YOH is South African slang, used when a person is rendered speechless, a word that summarizes the gravity of an overwhelming experience.

Practice saying it out aloud now. Yoh.
There is no use fighting it – it’s exactly what will happen.


Serves: 6

Cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil (olive oil if you don’t have)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of thyme (twigs removed)
  • 700 grams of Rosa tomatoes, halved
  • 700ml or 1 jar of tomato purée
  • 50 grams of basil chopped
  • 1 large butternut, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 400 grams potabellini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary (twigs removed)
  • 250ml cream
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 200 grams Swiss chard, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 300 grams fresh ricotta cheese
  • 250 grams egg lasagne
  • 450 grams of mozzarella
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Instructions: 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large pot over a medium heat, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, the onion and the garlic and fry until soft. Add the thyme leaves and the tomatoes and fry until soft. Add the tomato purée and basil, let simmer. The longer the tomato sauce simmers the more the acid reduces and the sweeter the sauce, so the longer the better. I let mine simmer on a low heat for almost two hours if I can. Season to taste.
 

Put the butternut on a roasting tray and lightly coat in a half a tablespoon of coconut oil. You don’t want too much oil. Just enough so that it is covered. Add salt and roast at 180 for 35-40 minutes or until soft when you poke it with a fork. When it is ready remove from the oven but keep the oven on to bake the dish at the end.
 

In a small frying pan over a medium to high heat add the butter and a dash of oil (this stops the butter from burning.) Do not add to much as you don't want to boil the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms and fry until they are golden brown. Once they start to brown add the rosemary. Once ready add half the cream to the pan. Let simmer for 1 minute, remove from heat and set aside.

Slice the aubergine into half a centimeter thick disks. In a large frying pan over a high heat add half a tablespoon of coconut oil. Once hot add your disks. Aubergine tends to suck up the oil. Don’t panic if they need add a little more oil (don’t over do it, they will fry up). Fry each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add the Swiss chard and lemon zest. Using your hands crumble the ricotta into the bowl and toss with the Swiss chard.

Almost there! Now you just have to put all the layers together

You are going to assemble the lasagne in a large lasagne dish. 

Add your butternut to the dish. I squish my butternut down to make a compact flat layer. Top with four ladles of tomato sauce. Add the lasagne by lining them up next to each other. You are not wetting the lasagne before cooking. It will cook out when you bake the dish.

Add the mushrooms on top of the lasagne. Smooth out to all corners of the dish.

Add the spinach on top. Pack it down and get as much in as you can. It wilts when you bake it.

Add another layer of lasagne.

Add your fried aubergine on top of your lasagne. Assemble it so that it makes a full layer.

Cover with the rest of the tomato sauce. Pour over the rest of the cream.

Slice the mozzarella into disks, enough to cover the entire top of the lasagne. Don’t be shy and make sure you don’t miss a spot! Remember the cheese will spread as it melts! Grate some parmesan over the top. 

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes. Keep an eye on your cheese as you don’t want it to burn but you do want it crunchy!

-Melissa 

 

Homemade Gnocchi with Ragu or Sage Butter

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Calling all gnocchi lovers!

I have always envied Italian blood or perhaps more specifically being able to cook with your Nona and learn the true Italian way. Italian food is possibly one of my all time favourites!

I am sure you can agree when Julia Roberts eats that bowl of spaghetti in Eat Pray Love that you were never the same again.

I completely lost myself in that moment of the fork swirling the spaghetti and the Neapolitan sauce oozing with rich tomato flavour and of course the slurping up of that perfectly al dente spaghetti. All that was needed was some fresh basil and I would have sold my Kenwood mixer for that moment (not really but pretty close)

Cooking for friends and sharing recipes with them is what inspired me to invite contributors to my blog. I wanted to create a space that wasn’t only a single voice (my recipes and my story)

Combining my love for EVERYTHING Italian (I even drive Italian) and the  approach of a collective experience; I found my first candidate! The beautiful and wildly talented fashion guru Miss Raya Rossi from The Visual Journal!

I can guarantee you that a day cooking with her was filled with laughter and of course a lot of snap chat! You should follow us @melissadelport and @RayaAFF 

We decided that gnocchi was going to be the order of the day. Reason being? It’s so damn hard to make a good homemade gnocchi. I decided to combine our recipes and the outcome? Sheer brilliance. The best part is that we did gnocchi two ways with a simple ragu and a butter sage sauce not to forget our vegetarians out there! You will not go wrong with this recipe!

I also thought I should share the following excerpt from Eat Pray Love because it is one of the truest sentiments I have ever heard.

Liz: I’m in love. I’m having a relationship with my pizza. You look like you’re breaking up with your pizza. What’s the matter?

Sofi: I can’t.

Liz: What do you mean you can’t? This is Pizza Margherita in Napoli, it is imperative to eat and enjoy that pizza.

Sofi: I want to, but I’ve gained like ten pounds. I mean, I’ve got this. . .right here in my tummy, you know this. . .what’s it called? What’s the word for it?

Liz: A muffin top. I have one too.

Sofi: I unbuttoned my jeans like five minutes ago just looking at this.

Liz: Lemme ask you a question, in all the years you’ve ever undressed for a gentleman–

Sofi: —it hasn’t been that many.

Liz: Alright. Has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out, left?

Sofi: No.

Liz: Because he doesn’t care. He’s in a room with a naked girl. He’s won the lottery. I’m so tired of saying no and waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before. Counting every calorie I consumed so I know exactly how much self-loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese; I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to finish this pizza and then we’re going to go watch the soccer game and tomorrow we’re going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans.

P.s If you have not seen Eat Pray Love, you need to do 3 things immediately, rent it, make this gnocchi for dinner and open a good wine!

SALUT!


serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams mince meat (try get non lean meat as it softens better with the fat but lean will also do)
  • a few good glugs of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped 
  • 2 carrots grated 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon thyme 
  • 1 bottle Passata (tomato pure in a bottle) 800grams 
  • 1 onion grated 
  • 1 cup parmesan grated 
  • 1/2 a cup of milk 
  • 200 grams butter 
  • half a cup of sage leaves 
  • 800 ml potato (should be about 8 large potatoes) 
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind
  • 150 ml parmesan grated
  • 200-250 ml flour 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup course cooking salt

Instructions:

Gnocchi:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius 

Boil the potatoes until soft. Do not over boil them. You should be able to pierce them with a fork but they should still be firm.  
Place the potatoes onto of the coarse cooking salt and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. 
Allow to cool.
Once cool, cut in half and scoop out the insides and pass through a sieve. The other option is to put the potatoes through a potato ricer like Raya did. 
Form potatoes lightly together and make a well in the middle. 
Put in yolks, parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg and lemon rind and work together until combined.
Then add flour. Do not knead the mixture work gently with it. Add the flour in stages until you are able to roll the gnocchi into sausages and cut them into bit size pieces. 
Gently use a fork to make indentations for the sauce to stick. 
POACH the gnocchi in salted water until they float to the surface. Then remove them. This is the secret, do not boil the gnocchi as they will break. 

Ragu Sauce:

Add olive oil, garlic clove salt, pepper, 2 grated carrots, oregano, thyme in a pot on high heat. Add the bottle of passata (tomato puree in glass bottle). Put lid on. Turn to medium heat and leave for 15 mins. 
Grate an onion into a separate pan of hot olive oil and butter.
Cook the onion with salt, pepper and oregano until soft.
Braise the meat with the onion and add more olive oil.
Let the meat cook for 10 minutes.
Add 2 table spoons of passata into the meat for extra flavour.
Once the meat is lightly cooked add it to the passata pot. 
Add a cup full of finely grated parmesan.
This gives it more flavour (without adding more salt)
Let the ragu cook on low heat for another 15-20 minutes. This will allow the sauce to thicken. There should be more meat then sauce. 
Add half a cup of milk, and continue to let cook for another 5 minutes. 

Butter sage:

Fry the butter and sage over a medium to high heat. 
Add the gnocchi. Remove once the butter has browned.
 

Raya's Top Tips:
- Use a carrot to sweeten the passata if the tomato is slightly acidic. 
- Grate your carrots and onions they cook better
- Let your meat soak in the flavour of the tomato - leave it on low for longer. 

-Melissa
 

wild mushroom risotto

A few years ago, when my mom and I had just moved to Durban, my mom was making new friends and having them over for one of her famous dinner parties. From the decked out table to the flowers, my mom is a master at hosting and cooking. The new friends coming over were a delight and she couldn't wait to impress them. Hours before she was in the kitchen cooking away and making sure everything was perfect. We were having prawn risotto. She tucked the completed meal into the warming draw, washed up and got ready for her guests to arrive. After the welcome drinks it was time for dinner. My mom’s new friends were offered to dish up first. Much to my mother shock as she was dishing, she realized that the risotto had gone stogy and was now like porridge, which you couldn't flick of the spoon if you tried. After dinner it came out. Jackie, my mom’s new friend was a chef (which she politely let out during dinner) the laughter that preceded the porridge like risotto has now resulted in a best friendship that has been going for 14 years! 

Risotto has that reputation of being difficult to make and even harder to not over cook. With this recipe I believe we will break boundaries. The biggest trick is to finish it off, as you are about to serve. But who knows, if it bombs there might be a best friendship in the mix for you. 


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wild mushrooms
  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 500ml warm water
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
  • 500ml light chicken stock
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 80g parmesan cheese
  • 30g butter
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Remove porcini mushrooms from soaking liquid and gently squeeze. Mix the porcini stock with the chicken stock and reserve for cooking. Chop up the porcini and fresh wild mushrooms. Fry in small batches until nice and caramelised set aside for later. Don’t add to much oil when you are frying, as you don't want them to go soggy. 

Sauté onions gently in olive oil until light golden in colour over a medium heat. 

Add Arborio rice and stir until is completely coated in oil. You will see the rice go slightly translucent while you are frying it with the onions. at this stage you can begin to add the stock. 

Add 100ml hot stock and stir continuously until it has been almost completely absorbed, then add another 100ml. repeat the process with the remaining stock. If you wish to wait until your guests arrive then you will stop the cooking half way through the stock. When your guests arrive put the pan back on your medium heat and continue the process of adding the stock and stirring in until it is absorbed. Remember your stock must be hot! 

Test to see if the rice is cooked when you add the last addition of stock.

The rice should be creamy, tender but with a slight bite. if not quite tender enough continue adding spoonful’s of water until cooked through.

To serve, stir through mushrooms, Parmesan and butter season to taste and serve immediately.

-Melissa